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Cloud, Transformation, Oct 13, 2021

Behind every cloud transformation, there’s change management

Kelly Jackson

Gartner predicts that over 45% of IT spend will shift from traditional solutions to cloud-based solutions by 2024, making cloud computing “one of the most continually disruptive forces in IT markets since the early days of the digital age.” Organisations of all shapes and sizes are rapidly moving infrastructure and data to the Cloud in fear of being left behind. The challenge is in how organisations successfully design and manage their cloud transformation at pace, whilst creating lasting change.

Credera has recently completed a large-scale migration of a core government analytics service from a legacy on-premise architecture to a cloud-native platform within AWS. In carrying out the migration, our team provided a blend of cloud, data, and change management expertise.

In this blog post, we provide our seven practical learnings for successfully managing change during cloud transformation.

Read next: Transforming your organisation to succeed with Cloud: Part 1

1. Create a compelling case for change

The majority of Crisis Management advice online relates to public relations incidents with little to cover the all-encompassing, whole business model crisis that organisations are currently facing. Nonetheless, the overarching leadership principles remain the same: focus on accurate sense-making and decisive decision-making to effectively marshal resources to terminate the crisis.

The obvious benefits of migrating services to the cloud include cost reduction, improved customer experience, and greater data and analytics capabilities. However, it’s important to recognise that none of these benefits can be realised without establishing and communicating a compelling case for change.

Without planning and clearly articulating the reasons for change, it is unlikely that you will gain commitment across business stakeholders and your transformation won’t achieve its true value potential.

Our top three tips on how to create a compelling case for change include:

  1. Set out a clear vision that describes how your business and the services you provide will operate more efficiently in the cloud, using storytelling and examples to help bring this to life.

  2. Emphasise why your current solution is no longer fit for purpose. Call out the consequences that your organisation could face if your current solution was to remain the same.

  3.  Define the business benefits across people, process, and data, illustrating the end-user benefits to help end-users understand what they can get out of it.

2. Understand your end-user

One of the most important but often overlooked barriers to smooth cloud adoption is gaining a comprehensive and exhaustive understanding of your customer base. Though this may seem obvious, a lack of in-depth understanding can jeopardise the success of your transformation before it even gets off the ground.

We recommend the following three tips to help you understand who your end-users are:

  1. Find out who they are, where they are based, and what they do. Knowing this information will help you to create effective communication plans and successful user engagements, which are pivotal for a successful journey to the cloud.

  2. Zero in on the end-user requirements. This is arguably the most important and challenging element of the change journey. Although a good baseline knowledge of your customers’ legacy journey can give a good grounding for their future requirement of a cloud capability, open and continued communication about their wants and needs for the future is the only sure-fire way of maximising future value.

  3. Define what their cloud-based future looks like; cloud-based technologies can be daunting to end-users. This can be combatted by having a better understanding of their current processes and knowing how their future processes and ways of working will need to change.
3. Map out the user journey

Once you’ve created a compelling case for change and you understand your end-users, the next step is to map out the user journey. This will help determine how you are going to communicate, inform, and engage your users throughout the journey to the Cloud.

Our top three success factors for a well-mapped out user journey include:

  1. Devise a high-level migration plan which focuses on the key stages of your user migration: onboarding, engagement, UAT, adoption, and go-live.

  2. At each stage, define the communication activities and methods that will be used to educate and inform the user on why the change is happening and encourage them to adopt new ways of working.

  3. Take the migration stages and communication activities to inform a high-level communication plan which details the key messages, methods, and audiences at each stage of the migration. By doing this, you will be able to identify what types of materials will be needed to help upskill your users across each stage of the migration.
4. Create cloud champions

Within your user base and across your user journey, individuals will adopt the change at different paces.

A key part of your transformation will be identifying the early adopters and transforming them into advocates of the change, or ‘cloud champions’. Their role will be to support you in shaping the change by collating the feedback of their peers, helping you to identify blockers, and offering their support in promoting the change from within the business setting.

Our top three suggestions for creating cloud champions are:

  1. Clearly articulate the role of the champion in helping to shape the change for their peers. Early adopters should also have a role in being able to see things first and share their ideas on how the user experience can be improved.

  2. Consider how champions are recruited. We have seen a difference between when individuals nominate themselves for the role compared to when they have been nominated by peers. The degree of recognition and ownership often tends to be higher if peers have nominated their colleagues for the champion role.

  3. Establish clear ways of working with the cloud champions. Create regular touchpoints, such as bi-weekly focus groups to meet with the change team or engineering team and discuss hot topics.
5. Craft communication channels and generate guidance

One of the most cited pieces of change management advice is to ‘communicate, communicate, and communicate’. Without continuous communication throughout your migration to the cloud, your business stakeholders and end-users won’t have a thorough understanding of what’s happening, why it’s happening, and what it means for them.

Our top three action points to help you create effective communications include:

  1. Set up centralised communication channels that will help users in raising incidents and getting support whilst using your solution. Aim for one single channel to enable your support teams to pick up and resolve issues in line with your service management SLAs.

  2. Utilise your cloud champions to get feedback on how effective your communications are and understand what additional materials or guides would support users to understand how to use the new system – for example, top tip guides, fact sheets, and myth busters.

  3. Using the top questions asked by users, provide updated FAQs throughout the migration to help combat the most common questions being asked.
6. Try, test, and test again

User acceptance testing can often be seen through the technical lens of ‘just making sure it works’. However, the importance of UAT for encouraging your end-users to see the benefits of the Cloud, try out their processes, and adopt new ways of working can’t be underestimated.

To form an effective UAT approach, we recommend:

  1. Agreeing the outcomes and objectives for user acceptance testing and forming a governance document which outlines the principles of user testing, how it will be conducted, how it will be measured, and what the sign-off process is.

  2. Mobilising a testing team consisting of a project manager, business change manager, business analysts, designated engineer, and product owner and creating channels to feedback UAT outputs to the testing team.

  3. Setting up testing software to automatically collect test outputs – if this isn’t possible, go down the manual route but be aware of how time intensive this will be.

  4. Forming a plan for when your users will test and when user acceptance will be received. If you are managing a large user base, consider conducting a series of UAT with each user group and breaking the groups into phases/tranches to allow your testing team to manage the process end-to-end.
7. Assess adoption and evaluate effectiveness

Sustaining change - in particular, cultural change - requires ongoing effort past the point of the cloud transformation. Throughout all of the steps above and beyond, successful change management will feature regular evaluation of how the adoption is taking place.

Our top three recommendations for assessing your levels of adoption and evaluating effectiveness are:

  1. Introduce measures to assess the level of adoption of the new platform. These could include number of users on the previous solution in comparison to the number of users migrated to your cloud solution, and a measure of the percentage increase in usage of the cloud solution.

  2. Evaluate the effectiveness of your engagement activities and user interventions - for example, within feedback forms, focus groups, or workshops with cloud champions.

  3. Create an ongoing, self-sustaining cycle of “review, assess, improve” within the organisation. Successful change projects have created a cycle of reviewing and assessing metrics and user feedback and putting the suggested improvements into place, before starting again.

In a nutshell

As organisations of all shapes and sizes are rapidly moving to the cloud, success will hinge on whether or or not people are brought along on the journey.

Our seven learnings from our recent cloud transformation break down practical ways to do this, ensuring that your most important assets are involved with and have the opportunity to shape the change.

Please get in touch with us if you’d like to hear more about our experience with change management in cloud transformation or need support with an upcoming initiative.

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Read more:
Transforming your organisation to succeed with Cloud - Part 2

Transforming your organisation to succeed with Cloud - Part 3
Transforming your organisation to succeed with Cloud - Part 4
How to improve public sector IT programmes with five simple interventions
How can Cloud enable customer-centricity for product managers?

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